Palaye Royale / Mod Sun / carolesdaughter — Kemba Live!, Columbus, OH

Photos & words courtesy of Harry Acosta — Website | Instagram | Facebook

You know how after watching countless advertisements over your life, you discount the idea that anything is as great as they say it is? We’ve all been burned on recommendations for a must-have, or must-see that we don’t know who to believe anymore. Maybe you find it difficult to believe me when I tell you that Palaye Royal’s Forever Dream North American Tour is the best show to see this year, but I have photos to prove it!

Starbenders took the stage. I started the show with a feeling of regret. They were so early, I missed them. I’ll say it is my fault, but also that I arrived within 30 minutes of doors opening, and only caught the end of their performance while security checked my camera gear. It sounded terrific, but alas, no photo proof of how great this tour is … yet.

carolesdaughter was up next and I was ready. Her first album just came out this year, so her set was also short. Her songs are easily recognizable and were easy to get into quickly. I’m grateful she didn’t perform her version of Radiohead’s Creep, but original work is far better. “Trailer Trash” and “My Mother Wants Me Dead” have now been added to online playlists.

Mod Sun came out swinging (and jumping). I’ve never seen any performer jump as much as Derek Smith. He mentioned that we were fortunate enough to see the best show. I remember him saying, but it held no wait with me. The drum kit plainly said “listen to Mod Sun” in black letters. Mod Sun, (and all of the performers) were anything but plain. Derek worked to get everyone’s energy up, and his efforts seemed genuine. When I was younger, the technology wasn’t entirely up to speed to recreate what we heard in the studio recording. Now, Mod Sun outperformed his solo studio releases spanning the last 6 years. 

His high-knee jumps most defiantly closed his rings on his watch before his longer than expected set finished. He and his touring mates were such high energy, even if Palaye Royale had a massive incident backstage and couldn’t perform, I was still pleased with the show I just watched, but I would have unwittingly missed out.

Right before brothers Remington, Sebastian, and Emerson emerged from backstage, I realized, everyone in the front row was a woman. I found it to be as terrific as when I notice I’m the only male in the pit with a camera. All these women had a much better idea of what to expect than I did. I also noticed the photo pit was wide and expanded the space between the stage and the crowd. Any crowd surfer was sure to be disappointed when they came nowhere near the stage and were escorted to the back of the crowd.

Band’s dictate that space when they tour. If the space is tight, it is usually a sign that the performer is going to easily step into the audience. It looked like there was going to be little interaction here. The stage was set with small steps adorned with flowers and a beautiful backdrop depicted what seemed to be an epic scene from history. A small rug was placed in the center of the stage where most people would not be able to see it. Maybe it was a lucky rug.

As soon as they started to perform their first song, “Nightmares” it was total chaos. As a photographer, we had to pick one thing, and commit to capturing it for a moment. Singer, Remington Leith vanished somewhere during the second song while I was photographing the bassist. I suddenly realized, too late, that he was crawling on the floor of the pit behind me. From there, he jumped into the audience several times. 

There was a moment for him to breath when he got to sit and play a piano under a spotlight, stage right. That was short lived. He jumped off a tower of monitors; carried the guitarist on his back; crawled, kicked, and tumbled all over that rug; stripped off his pinstripe jacket and top to reveal several tattoos. Now I see why everyone in the front row was a woman.

They made mention how the last few weeks were particularly difficult, citing that their tour manager quit and their tour bus broke down. When you make an investment in something like touring North America in a band, you’re all in. And these guys were all in on creating the greatest performance the US will experience in 2022.

Harry Acosta is a professional photographer who started out shooting concerts. He is an avid concertgoer and loves to capture his favorite musicians and unseen moments we take for granted in everyday life.

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